Major Nidal Malik Hasan has been cleared to defend himself in front of a military tribunal. Hassan, an army psychiatrist of Palestinian descent, is charged with the 2009 shooting at the Fort Hood military base that left 13 soldiers dead and 30 wounded. The shooting was the largest terrorist attack on American soil since September 11, 2001. Prior to the attack, Hasan was in contact with radical Islamist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who heralded Hasan as a hero on his website.
Hasan’s decision to represent himself in court came after an army medical examination concluded that he is physically capable of preparing his own defense. Hasan will be allowed to directly question witnesses, including shooting victims, and may use the trial as an opportunity to expound his fundamentalist views. The trial has been delayed for over a year, in part because of Hasan’s refusal to shave his beard in accordance with military protocol. If convicted, Hasan could face the death penalty.